words and art for mothers: yesterday, today, tomorrow

Here are three pages from my book, 365 Words of Well-Being for Mothers (Contemporary/McGraw-Hill, 2003), which, alas, is currently out-of-print and generally available only in used or remainder copies. My own mother has taken up fragile residence in between worlds: here but not here, there but not there. She can’t express whether she remembers who any of us are, though I like to believe that in her deepest heart, she will never forget.

I always liked the thought that there are two kinds of people on the planet: those who are mothers — and those who have mothers. Whether you are one or the other or both, you may find resonance within these words.

"Woman in Field with Celery", antique woodblock print by Harry Cimino (1898-1969) for Marchbanks Calendar


Sometimes the best thing you can say about yesterday is that it’s over. Yesterday you drove the lawn mower into the petunias. Yesterday the bank called and your account was overdrawn. Yesterday nobody could find a single clean thing they wanted to wear, and everybody went off to school cranky. Was it only yesterday that you got the news about the twins? Was it that long ago that the sheriff called? Yesterday will go down in history as the day a certain someone used up her very last chance with the basketball coach. Not to mention with her mother. You served a new casserole that was loaded with broccoli and it wasn’t much of a hit. Yesterday brought you one day closer to your final deadline but you didn’t get much done. And on the topic of getting done: wasn’t that some kind of yesterday?


Right now, be here with today. Today is the small hand in yours, warmly mittened. Today is the sun overhead and the clouds rolling in from the east. Today is the last day and today is the first. Today is the day you choose something different. Today is icicles melting in the courtyard. Today is vanilla hazelnut snow cones and a purple plastic spoon.Today, the story about the woman who wouldn’t sit in the back of the bus.Today, the green striped sweater. Today, the conversation about contraception. Today is the day you sign the papers. Today is the day Daddy slips in the hall. Today you find the earring with the pearl you’ve been missing. Today is lipstick and heels. Today is naps all day long. Today the silence is shattered. Today you become. Today is your knowing. The present is today.

Mother and Child, Chinese, color etching on paper plate, by Helen Hyde (1868-1919)


Tomorrow picks up where today leaves off. Tomorrow, the sitter comes. Tomorrow, you’ll get to work early. Tomorrow you’ll start those stretching exercises. Tomorrow, you hope, you’ll start bleeding. May the baby sleep through ’til tomorrow. May the war be over tomorrow. May tomorrow be the day that the bathroom is finally done. Tomorrow, maybe, swimming. You’ll hang sheets on the clothesline tomorrow. Hear from your lawyer tomorrow. Oh, yes, let the check come tomorrow. Tomorrow the dentist. Tomorrow the taxes. Tomorrow after school, end-of-year conference. Tomorrow for dinner, fried chicken. Try out that new deli tomorrow. Please let it rain tomorrow. If not, you’ll water tomorrow. Clean clothes all around for tomorrow. School lunch will do for tomorrow. When today is done, there’s always tomorrow.

(Thanks to http://www.vintageprintables.com for these (and many many more) public domain images. Click on through the pix and feast your eyes on what is undoubtedly a visually intense environment!)

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